Defections, court battles as parties intensify campaigns

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Support base for Abiodun swells in Ogun •Kano PDP exco defects to APC

•Oyo APC accuses PDP of peddling rumours •Judge refuses to stop Bindow

•‘Kwara governor intimidating workers’ •Ortom: no plan to compromise INEC

PARTIES and their candidates are intensifying their preparations for the rescheduled Governorship and State Assembly elections on Saturday.

President Muhammadu Buhari was in Delta and Akwa Ibom states to lead the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign for the governorship elections. It was in a bid to take the Southsouth states into the ruling party’s basket.

In many of the states, stronger candidates are making overtures to weaker candidates to gain more strength ahead of the elections and to form a formidable opposition to dislodge incumbent governors.

Major challengers are accusing governors of deploying government structures to emasculate the opposition.

There have also been judicial interventions in some states. Here is a state-by-state situation ahead of the elections:

Kano

In Kano, a Federal High Court nullified the primaries that produced Abba K. Yusuf as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate.

Justice Lawis Alagoa ruled that Yususf’s candidature was not recognised by law because no primary election was held to produce him.

The Judge, however, ruled that the PDP should conduct a fresh primary to produce a candidate who can be recognised by law before Saturday’s election.

A PDP gubernatorial aspirant, Ibrahim El-Amin Little, challenged the process that produced Yusuf.

His grouse was that the party denied him the right to contest the primary election, even as he bought his expression and nomination forms.

The development has unsettled the opposition party with members of its Executive Council defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Led by Senator Masa’ud El-Jubrin Doguwa, the executive and thousands of the party’s supporters announced their defection yesterday.

Explaining why he collapsed the state leadership of the PDP into the APC, Doguwa said it was “due to the injustice being meted out to us by the Prince Uche Secondus National leadership”.

He said: “I called this press conference just to brief you of a very painful decision that we have taken. This is so painful, but we have no choice but to take this decision of leaving the PDP. Today, we have decided to move to the APC.”
Read also: My intervention in Oyo APC was for genuine reconciliation, by Tinubu

Niger

In Niger State, a Federal High Court in Minna yesterday dismissed a case of alleged certificate forgery filed against Governor Abubakar Bello.

The PDP had gone to the court, seeking Bello’s disqualification from the election in.

It accused Bello, who is the APC candidate, of presenting a forged certificate of statutory declaration of age to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Justice Aminu Aliyu, held that the suit was filed out of time, thereby negating Section 285 (9) of Nigeria’s constitution.

Justice Aliyu held that the plaintiff’s case lacked merit and could not establish that Bello presented a forged certificate to INEC.

He dismissed the matter and awarded N500, 000 cost to Bello and APC.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Aliyu Lemu, expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment, saying that his client would appeal.

Mr Jibril Okutepa (SAN), Yunus Usman (SAN) and Johnson Usman, counsel to Bello and APC, described the judgment as a further proof that the judiciary was the last hope of the common man.

Adamawa

A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Apo, yesterday dismissed a suit alleging that Adamawa State Governor Mohammed Bindow of submitting forged certificates to the INEC for lack of territorial jurisdiction.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi held that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case on the ground that the suit originated from Adamawa State and ought to have been filed in the state and not in Abuja.

A non-governmental organisation, under the aegis of Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, tendered documents before the court to substantiate its claim that the defendant who is a flag-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), falsely declared his educational qualification and date of birth.

Among other prayers, the claimant was seeking the disqualification of Bindow from participating in the election.

Bindow denied presenting forged documents to INEC.

The governor, through his lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, told the court that he won the primary election on October 9, last year in Yola.

Meanwhil, the governorship candidates of 10 political parties in the state have resolved to work for the PDP to ensure victory for the opposition party.

The candidates announced the decision after a meeting with the Adamawa PDP candidate, Alhaji Umaru Fintiri, in Yola.

The candidates are: Sadiq Khaliel of MRDD, Danjuma Musa of FJP, Naziru Sa’ad of ZLP, Ahmed Hassan of DA and Salihu Danjuma of APM.

Others are: Abdullahi Usman of NCP, Bappari Umar of KOWA, Lami Musa of PPN, Elizabeth Isa of CAP and Frank Simon of MEGA party.

The candidates, who took turns to speak at the meeting, said they had decided to partner with the PDP and work for the success of the party and its candidate in the election.

Ogun

In Ogun State, the support base of the APC candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun, swelled with some opposition figures promising to support him.

A top chieftain of the APC in the Gateway State confirmed to The Nation that talks were ongoing between the party and key opposition figures.

The APC leader, who pleaded to remain anonymous, said: “Our party has opened talks with the PDP, ADC and other opposition parties on how to collaborate so that Dapo Abiodun can really be the symbol.

“Some APM members are returning home to work for the party. This is why I called it the realignment of forces in Ogun State.”

A member of the state House of Assembly, Akinpelu Aina, said the APC would win Saturday’s governorship poll, despite the stand of Governor Ibikunle Amosun.

Governor Amosun is backing the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, who lost the governorship ticket to Abiodun at the primaries.

The lawmaker noted that the APC candidate was credible and remained the best for the position.

Benue

Governor Samuel Ortom’s Special Adviser on Media & ICT, Mr Tahav Agerzua, said there was no need for the governor to compromise INEC personnel.

Agerzua, who spoke in Makurdi, was reacting to the allegation by the APC in the state that Ortom had allocated large amounts of money to INEC staff, with the intent to compromise them.

He said: “These unfounded allegations being circulated in the media are surely the last kicks of a dying horse. The results of the Feb. 23 Presidential and National Assembly polls indicate that the party (PDP) is the preferred choice of the Benue people.

“Ortom, who has grass roots support, need not compromise INEC staff to get votes through the backdoor. The people are poised to, once again, vote for him massively like they did in 2015, without any undue influence on the electoral umpire.”

Sokoto

The state chapter of the APC in Sokoto raised the alarm over alleged desperate and undemocratic moves by the PDP to cause a breach of the peace. It urged law enforcement agencies to apply appropriate sanctions to serve as deterrent to others.

It alleged that the PDP had planned to deploy ‘area boys’ in Sokoto Marshall uniforms to join the joint security patrol team that will monitor the election to accomplish its designed plan.

“We do not trust the state government owned security outfit. We reject that unlawful arrangement and demand that only security agencies backed and duly recognised by federal laws should monitor elections”, the APC said.

It described as detrimental the calculated inciting statement by the state PDP chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma and the state Zonal Vice Chairman, Alhaji Muhammadu Dangwaggo, at a youth solidarity rally on March 2.

At a news conference, the Sokoto APC Chairman, Alhaji Sadiq Isah Achida, observed that the PDP was rattled by the overwhelming victory of the APC across the country, describing the actions and unguarded statements by the opposition party’s chieftains as capable of causing a breach of the peace.

Achida quoted the duo as saying: “We must win election by all means. We either win or there will be death. Any government official seen at the polling unit should be beaten up to death and his corpse thrown away in a refuse dump.

“The statements are not only inciting but a recipe for lawlessness and anarchy,” Achida said.

Oyo

The Oyo State chapter of the APC warned PDP leaders to steer clear of the state because its funds cannot be used to fund the party (PDP).

APC Publicity Secretary AbdulAzeez Olatunde said the failure of the PDP to win the presidential election had caused its members to go delusional, noting that the allegation that Governor Abiola Ajimobi plans to use fake police and NURTW members to cause unrest is “a figment of their puerile imagination and a product of hallucination”.

Dr. Olatunde said: “Everyone in this state knows that Ajimobi stands for peace and he will not trade it for anything. Nigerians cannot forget in a hurry the violent years of PDP and the ruins caused by the party, which is gradually being salvaged by the APC administration of President Buhari.”

The APC spokesman warned that it would resist what it called the rigging and vote buying plans of the PDP, adding that it will not allow the PDP to turn Oyo State into a micro finance bank.

He said: “We wouldn’t have responded to PDP hallucinatory statements since the people know the party is synonymous with violence, maladministration, financial recklessness and mudslinging. With their rejection by Nigerians in the February 23 election, we assumed that they would have changed their ways.

“But like the saying goes, old habits die hard. The habit of PDP to peddle falsehood is their second nature. Their antics to get to Oyo’s seat of power will be another futile effort. The electorate knows them; they know how they ruined the country’s economy and perpetrated a lot of violence in Oyo State and across the country.

“The peace currently being enjoyed in Oyo State was elusive during the ruling years of PDP. It is only PDP that will lay the foundation of peace and destroy same with its hands.

“The present administration in the state is people-oriented and it has vowed to sustain peace, safety and security.”
The Nation Newspaper

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